Monday 19 March 2018

Southampton to demand FA investigation into alleged illegal approach from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool is Virgil van Dijk's preferred destination for a summer move
Liverpool is Virgil van Dijk's preferred destination for a summer move

Simon Peach

Southampton have asked the Premier League to investigate an alleged illegal approach from Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk.

Press Association Sport understands Southampton are yet to receive any contact from Liverpool regarding Van Dijk, despite the defender apparently indicating he is eager to move to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp is understood to have made Van Dijk his top target this summer and the chance to work with Klopp is believed to have been a significant factor in Van Dijk's decision.

But Saints have been irritated by what they see as an attempt to unsettle their player and are ready to reject an official offer.

Liverpool may now face an ever-tougher battle to secure the 25-year-old, who has become one of the most sought-after defenders in the league since moving to the south coast from Celtic less than two years ago.

Last month, Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger told Press Association Sport the club could turn down even a £60million bid for Van Dijk.

"Can we? Yes," Krueger said. "We do not need to sell any player for the first time since I've been here."

Van Dijk signed a six-year contract 11 months ago but made only 21 Premier League appearances last term after missing the second half of the season with an ankle ligament injury.

The Dutchman is the latest in a long line of Southampton stars to catch the eye of Liverpool, who have signed Sadio Mane, Nathaniel Clyne, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren from St Mary's, all in the last three years.

Liverpool are not commenting on the situation but it is no surprise, with their history with the south-coast club, things have turned ugly very quickly.

Lallana and Lovren both made the move to Anfield in the summer of 2014 after protracted stand-offs as the Saints held out for the best possible fee.

Southampton's then club captain Lallana asked the club to leave once he became aware of Liverpool's interest but the saga dragged on and his eventual departure was somewhat acrimonious.

The same summer Lovren handed in a transfer request - which he claimed the club failed to acknowledge - expressing his disappointment at Southampton's lack of ambition but, when Liverpool did come in for the centre-back, Saints were tough negotiators.

If Van Dijk stands by his decision to make Liverpool, ahead of Premier League champions Chelsea or Manchester City, his preferred destination should he leave, it effectively denies Southampton the chance to generate an auction for the highest bidder.

So - although the two clubs did business again over Mane last summer - there is likely to be no easy route for Liverpool should they make a bid for the Dutch centre-back.

Press Association

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